WASHINGTON — The Interior Department proposed new rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on federal land Thursday, drawing criticism from environmentalists that it had weakened an earlier draft to placate industry.
Industry officials were not mollified, however, reiterating their objections to federal standards. Last year, they criticized the department's earlier draft rules as inflexible and onerous.
"We are proposing some common-sense updates that increase safety while also providing flexibility and facilitating coordination with states and tribes," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. "As we continue to offer millions of acres of America's public lands for oil and gas development, it is important that the public has full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place."
The changes did not satisfy industry officials.
"States have been successfully regulating fracking for decades, including on federal lands, with no incident of contamination that would necessitate redundant federal regulation," said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based trade group. "While the current rule is better than the first impractical rule, DOI still has not justified the rule from an economic or scientific point of view."